Yes, by the looks of things on his Instagram account, even Lance Armstrong is aging. For that admission of sorts, I am proud of him.
It took him years to confess that he’d been doping all along during his string of seven consecutive Tour de France victories. He’d risen so high in the sporting ranks an entire industry flourished as a result of his accomplishments. It eventually emerged that the entire cycling world itself was corrupt at its core. But Lance was its figurehead. And it’s starting to show.
The face of change
Now that figurehead is wrinkling and weatherworn. Lance has long since opened up about his transgression. Some will never forgive him for cheating and making the lives of those that sought to hold him to account a living hell. It was certainly not an admirable trait, to aggressively crush those who simply sought to tell the truth.
The truth from Lance only rolled out of Armstrong grudgingly, bits at a time. That interview with Oprah Winfrey years ago was one of the most awkward, orchestrated confessions of all time.
For a while after the Big Lie was exposed, we heard little from Lance Armstrong. There were rumors that he was hurting financially. But Lance is a smart guy and made smart investments along the way, and he has made a successful journey back from Tour de France hell. Last year he even made it onto the Tour broadcast.
My wife and I listened to his daily podcasts during the Tour the last two years. His loyal friend George Hincapie makes frequent guest appearances, and former coach Johan Bruyneel as well. Despite the scandal associated with the Lance Armstrong years, the insight and experience of these great cyclists still offer the best insights into the escapades of current cyclists in great races.
A wise visage
But what I most admire about Lance Armstrong right now is that he appears willing to move past middle age without pulling his face into a state of permanent denial through plastic surgery cocoon in which his face gets tightened up and his neck wattle removed. Perhaps Lance is honest enough with himself that he feels no need to hide the effects that riding in all kinds of weather can have on our visage.
We all wish ageism wasn’t a thing. Discrimination toward people with aging faces is a reality that vexes those who have plenty more to give the world. Social pressures and prejudice are hard things to fight in this world. Which is why examples such as Lance Armstrong are important to the rest of us.
Honesty and character
Originally it was the Lance Armstrong honesty about his cancer journey that inspired so many to abide in the Livestrong ethic that it’s better than okay to show vulnerability in the face of life-threatening disease. A philosophy of that order can be found in the book I wrote about the journey through cancer survivorship with my late wife. The book is titled The Right Kind of Pride: Character, Caregiving and Community. Through essays about that journey, I make the point that being willing to be vulnerable is the face of authenticity. People are drawn to that because it shows character. That leads to caregiving and community.
Thus in my mind Lance is showing leadership in showing his “true face” as he ages. It gives a whole new meaning to the brand Livestrong even though he’s no longer the face of the organization.
I was fortunate to see Lance before the cancer and hype in 1996 in the Dupont race in Charlotte, NC. Even at that time his reputation preceded him. Fun to watch as he definitely put in the work – too bad it was tainted.